John Somers is the photographer whose work is currently on show at the Beehive in Honiton where twenty-nine prints fill the Corridor Gallery. John’s interest in photography began in the austere post WWll era when the family camera was a very simple Kodak Brownie. He still has many family photos of that time, technically imperfect but nevertheless capturing the memories of a Welsh childhood. He progressed to a simple Braun camera brought home as a present by his brother who was serving with the BAOR in post-war Germany, a 1970s Russian SLR Zenith B and a variety of compacts, ending with his current compact, a Nikon Coolpix 6400. Compared with the excitement of picking up the ‘snaps’ from Boots, digital photography has made the process much easier and modern , compact cameras can be carried with ease yet give excellent results.
Although international cultures and manufacturing are gradually merging, the architectural detail of buildings still differs markedly and it is this aspect of ‘other places’ which John has captured in many of his photographs. He is a retired drama/theatre practitioner and academic and has travelled the world in connection with his work. The photos on display were taken in New Zealand, Taiwan, Poland, Estonia, Portugal, Greece and other countries but include some Devon subjects – Dartmoor Prison, an accordion band at Sidmouth Folk Festival, trees on Hembury Fort and a railway-carriage at Feniton station, for example.
Many of John’s subjects – windows, doors and street materials such as manhole covers, rainwater pipes and pavements make coloured, textured patterns which only appear when framed by the camera’s viewfinder. Framing is hugely important in photography and set in the detailed jumble of other, competing colours and shapes, the shot does not reveal itself except through the viewfinder or camera screen.
The Beehive mounts an impressive range of Arts and other events, including concerts by leading musicians, home-grown and well-known national theatre companies and various Dance activities. The Corridor visual art Gallery provides an excellent space which hosts a steady stream of original work. The Thelma Hulbert Gallery is a short walk away so it’s easy to see both exhibitions in one trip.
The John Somers’ exhibition, containing 39 photographs is at The Beehive until April 4th and can be viewed at almost any time when the Arts and Community Centre is open. If you wish to ring and check access, contact the Beehive on 01404 384050.